Barber Trip 1: Malfunction Junction

Most of the first day was on US 36, which I’ve done several times now. When I drive cross-country, I generally listen to podcasts. There’s a guy I listen to who likes to make 6-hour long episodes about history. Today’s episode was part two of two about the Vikings, Halfway through it, I realized I had listened to part one on this same road on last year’s trip. I’ve probably just developed a weird association between Kansas and the Vikings.

I spent the first night in Abilene, Kansas, in a room with a view of the onramp for eastbound I-70.

I brought a small cooler full of soft drinks that I figured I’d be able to fill with ice every morning at my motel and have cold drinks for the day. “Man plans, God laughs!” Not here, Bucko, the ice machine is out of order. A sign taunts me: “Working hard to fix this problem” They dated it. They’ve been working hard on it for nearly a year. It’s the worst motel room I’ve ever had.

After being in the car all day, I didn’t want to drive anywhere and I wanted to walk. There was an Arby’s across the street, so I hoofed it over there. There are no crosswalks or sidewalks, of course. Although I was crossing a four-lane divided road without a crosswalk, I wasn’t defying death: the four-lane road has almost no traffic, even though it’s an I-70 interchange.

Everything in sight is run down.

I didn’t want to walk up to the drive-through (which I’ve done at my bank) so I went to the Burger King next door instead. The service was slow at BK so the gal who filled my order upgraded my fries and drink. I wasn’t going to take the upgraded drink until I realized I could fill this giant cup up with ice and put it in my cooler.

That Sinking Feeling

After watching some TV, I went out to the car to grab my water bottle.

I had parked my car in a spot that guaranteed that everybody saw it. It was well-lit, and everybody who came into the parking lot swept it with their headlights. It was a very good example of the exact opposite of invisible. Nobody could not see it. And yet…

My heart sank when I walked out the door. Somebody had backed into my car. No note under my wiper. From the damage, it was obviously done by a truck with a trailer hitch. A woman was parked in the handicapped spot next to me, but she’d only been there a few minutes to make a phone call and didn’t see it happen.

I went back inside and talked to the desk clerk. He said he’d have a look at the security camera footage and went into the back room. A few minutes later he returned, saying he couldn’t access the camera footage as he didn’t have the password.

We went outside and looked around the parking lot. Most of the vehicles in the parking lot were pickup trucks and most of them had trailer hitches. I found two trucks that were candidates, with hitches at the right height.

As I was taking photos of one of the candidate trucks, a man came toward me. My first thought was that he belonged to the truck I just photographed and was going to give me grief about taking pictures. I was wrong. He asked if I was the owner of “the green car”. He said he was the one who backed into it. I took photos of his truck, proof of insurance, and driver’s license. “It was dark; I didn’t see your car.” I have no words.

Yes, I’m in a cheap motel. But this could have happened in any parking lot.

I had difficulty falling asleep, and when I woke up for a bathroom break, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.

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